About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Would You Do? 3

Let me start off by saying that today was one of those grooming nightmares I used to have when I was pregnant come true.

I thought that today would never end.
It started off simple enough.
It ended pretty calmly too.
It was the middle of the day that was a nightmare.

Today's 'What would you do?' is not about how would you groom a dog, it is about whether to groom the dog at all.

We had two Standard Poodles on the books today.
We have been grooming them for a long time.
Jess grooms the female and I groom the male.

The male has not been doing very well lately.
He has been unsteady on his legs for about a year now, but he was still doing pretty good for the groom.
Late last year he suddenly rejected t he HV dryer.

Ugh...not being able to HV a Standard Poodle that gets a Lamb cut is a killer.
I can't believe that I groomed for 15 years without a HV dryer.

Anyway, I was getting ready to dry my first appointment when my husband came in the grooming room with the female Standard Poodle.
"You better come up and checkout the other Standard," he told me, with a concerned look on his face.
"His owner said that he can barely walk."

The owner was outside trying to get the male standard out of her car.
I walked out to her car to check on the dog.
He looked fine, but was really unsteady on his legs.
He had been having a lot of trouble with his back legs.

Standing there looking at the dog and talking to the owner my mind is racing.

Should I groom this dog or send it home?

"Just do what you can on him," the owner is telling me.
"We know he can't stand very well, and he can't walk on tile floors anymore."

Have I mentioned yet that this Standard is almost 17 years old?

So, I ask...what would you do?

He is a Standard.
He needs to be groomed.
He is not a short haired dog that you can just stop grooming for his remaining time.
Doesn't he deserve to be clean and comfortable like he is used to?
Do I take the chance and pray that his time does not come to an end while I am grooming him?

So, what did I do?

I picked him up and carried him into the shop...and I prayed.
I prayed that I was doing the right thing.
I prayed that the grooming would not be too much for him.
I prayed that I could get him back home as quickly as possible.

I also had a plan.

I told the owner that I would no longer be shaving his feet.
I also told the owner that a shorter cut would be better at this point in the dogs life.

I put him on my table and clipped his face.
He no longer likes his face fooled with, so I got it as clean as I could, as quickly as I could.

He is the kind of old dog that refuses to sit until he practically falls down.

You try and try to get him to sit and rest but he won't.

After fighting it for most of the bath, his legs eventually gave out and he sat down for awhile.

I bathed him as quickly as I could with warm shampoo and a toasty rinse.

My son was drying my 8am appointment, but I had to kick him out of the bathing room, because the sound of the HV was upsetting this old guy.

Since he no longer tolerates the HV, I planed to wrap him in a towel, put him in his kennel to rest, and put the kennel dryer on him for two 10 minute intervals while I finished my first appointment.

All was going just how I planned until my blade sharpening guy showed up.

I was only half finished my first appointment, but had to talk to the sharpening guy about my daughters clippers. 

That took 15 minutes.

Then my Dad walked in.
I had to help him fix his cell phone that didn't seem to want to make calls or except them.
How do you nicely rush your 84 year old father out the door, because you have to get back to work?
Another 15 minutes gone.
I could have been finished my first dog by now.

Why do my plans always get messed up?

He was almost out the door when he remembered that he wanted to tell me about losing his electricity the other day.
I hope I wasn't too rude as I stood there smiling and nodding my head at everything he was telling me, while my brain was desperately begging him to go home and we would talk about this when I see him later.

Meanwhile Jess stuck her head out of the grooming room door to tell me that the Standard was getting upset. :/

When it rains, it pours!

I ended up putting my half finished, first appointment away so that I could finish the Standard and get him back home.
I can't begin to tell you how much I hate to be interrupted when finishing a dog.
I really can't stand when I have to put one away unfinished.

Even though I had let the Standard dry half way in  the kennel, it still seemed to take forever to hand dry him.
And, he was still curly! :(

I thought that I would never finish him.

He looks like my grooms from when I first started grooming.

When I was kennel drying every dog.

Don't look too closely.

It is definitely not one of my best grooms.

He has lost so much body mass.
I felt like I was clipping and scissoring bones.

His owners are used to fuller legs, so I did a #4F on the body and a 3/4 blade on the legs.

After I finished the Standard, I got my first appointment out and started finishing him again.
Again I had to stop when the owner came for the Standards.

I only talked to the owner for about 5 minutes then carried the Standard out to his car.
The poor man was tearing up.
He knows that his Poodle is on borrowed time. :(

As I walked back into the shop, the owner of my first appointment was there.
She had not waited for my phone call.
She was not happy that her dog was not done.
My explanation of getting behind because of the old Standard did not go over well.
She could not wait for the 10 minutes it would take me to finish up her dog.
She said that she would send someone else to pick him up.

Not a good start to the day. :(

The rest of the day did go better.

Would you have groomed the dog?

Will I groom him again?

I won't know till that day comes.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. In my very humble, not a groomer opinion, I think you did a great favor to the poodle and his family by grooming him and keeping him comfortable in his own skin/fur. Being regularly groomed is probably one of the few things that's still normal in his life.
    I can understand the hesitations, and I'm sorry that your day started so crummy. That's always discouraging. But I think that when that handsome ol' poodle passes, the owner will remember the kind groomer that took great care of him. :)

  2. Hi Jacki,
    Thank you very much for those kind words.
    Lisa, MFF

  3. when a dog gets to that point I start to book them in first thing in the morning, work them right through and do a full strip so they dont have to come back as often usually a 5 or 7 and to bad if the owners dont like it, it's for comfort not for looks. I have used to have a 20 year old Maltese that for the last year only got a strip no bath because it was too much for him then I'd use damp towels to clean him off or his owner would use those doggie wipes. I hate to let a client go because the dog still needs to be groomed. For a while I had a bouv that I would bath laying down in the tub and only stand her for her underside and I would do a 7 on her laying down on her side. She could walk but not stand for more than 3 minutes before her back legs gave out on her. I think you did a phenomenal job all things considered

  4. Hi Lisa,

    I would have done the exact same thing that you did, only because we have extremely similar feelings about these poor old guys who you don't want to say no to anymore. I had a black standard who was 15 and in the identical situation as that poor fella. His second to last grooming, I did just what you did, right down to the letter. As for his last grooming, I kindly and gently told his owner that the only thing I could now do for him is to shave him completely down with a 7F, legs included, all while laying him down on one side,and then turning him over to do the other side. After a quick bath, I would kennel dry him and send him home. When he left, he looked terrible, but this was the only way to get him clean and keep him from matting up in the time that he had left. He died two weeks later. My suggestion to you for his next groom is to do whatever you can as quickly as you can, without worrying about his appearance. I know it's very hard to do, and I'm sure you will be cringing at how awful he will look, but it is the kindest thing to do without turning them away. Clean and comfortable is your goal now. I'm sure his mom and dad will understand. Good luck...Karen from NJ

  5. Hi Mini & Karen,
    My biggest worry about grooming these old guys is the possibility of them passing away while being groomed. No matter how quickly I groom, or how easy I make the cut for them, my worst fear is losing one on the grooming table.
    Years ago I had a Shih-tzu have a heart attack while being bathed. I had him across the street, to my Vet, before anyone knew what had happened.
    The Shih-tzu did not pass away on my watch, but he did have to be put down later that day because of a very bad heart. He was only 11 years old.
    I will most likely always groom the old ones while holding my breath. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  6. I have a 17-year-old cocker that I groom. He used to be almost full coat (with a 30 on his mole-y back), but it was getting hard for him to stand and took me a solid 2 1/2 hours to groom because those legs took FOREVER to dry and brush. Finally, two grooms ago, I convinced her to let me take an E comb to his legs. He still wasn't bald, but he had much less hair, which seemed like a good compromise. Last time I groomed him it went much faster since there was SO much less hair to dry and brush, and I was relieved. He's at that point that I start to hope I don't see him again. :-(

  7. You are kind and have a huge heart!! I'm really upset about the other lady having that big of a issue because she had to wait!! Has all the compassion gone in the world? Lady you just wait until the day it is your dog not able to walk. You would hope that the person working on your dog has the compassion that you had for that poodle. You will get more business from this kind act over being on time for that lady any day of the week.

    1. Thank you Brent,
      The upset lady's dog is always done at noon. She comes to pick him up on her lunch hour. I think that she thought I was just making up excuses. I was upset with her and found it hard to believe that she could not wait the 10 more minutes that I needed to finish the dog, but that is just the way she is. I try not to let it get to me.... I don't always succeed. :/
      Thank you again for your nice comment. :)
      Lisa, MFF